Pets of the Month

Some people say that you don’t choose a pet, they choose you. Taco, our 5-year-old Maine Coon mix did just that. While at our local animal shelter we entered a small room full of free roaming cats. Taco, who was about 6 months old at the time, immediately ran to us and laid on our feet. When visiting the other cats in the room he followed closely and kept laying on our feet. We left the room and he jumped in the window to watch us walk around the rest of the shelter. He waited there until we circled back around soon after. We got near the door and he ran to greet us again. It was clear to us that he had chosen us to be his guardians. Nowadays he spends his time doing typical cat things… sleeping and eating in our home at The Dorchester in Dallas, TX. He waits for us to get home and demands attention and cuddles constantly. The terms needy and clingy would be understatements to his temperament.

Max is 13 years old and lives at Alpine Village in LaVista, NE. He greets everyone he meets and likes to take walks in the park. He loves to cuddle and loves massages. Max went through a lot the last few years with his ailments, but he is a fighter. He means the world to me.

Think you have the world’s cutest pet and want everyone to know it? There’s nothing wrong with being a show off! Enter your pet in Richdale’s Pet of the Month contest for a chance to win a BarkBox or KitNipBox for your furry friend. Tell us about your furry friend and if he or she is featured, YOU win! Send pictures and a brief description to: TheLeaf@richdale.com!

Grocery Delivery Service

It’s a very popular service that is now available almost everywhere and makes buying groceries a whole lot simpler. Retail giants like Google, Amazon and even your local grocery stores are offering this convenience. Yep, you guessed it, grocery delivery is an up and coming luxury that is quickly becoming the norm.

Google Express is the new way to shop online at all your favorite stores at the same time. With nearly 40 stores to choose from, including Walmart, Target and Costco, there’s hardly a reason to make a trip to the store. Free two-day delivery is available on orders over $25-$35 depending on the store. No membership is required to shop with Google Express. You simply add items from your favorite stores to your cart and pay for everything at once in a single transaction. If you have Google Home device, you can add items to your list with voice command.

For another added convenience you can download the app and add things to your cart on the go. This service is great for ordering all of your household products and non-perishable food items.

Amazon is also getting in on the grocery delivery business, but currently only offers the service in select cities. Amazon Prime Fresh is available for $14.99 a month, which is charged separately from the Amazon Prime cost of $99 a year. Non-Amazon Prime members are able to try both services for free with a 30-day trial. Amazon uses your preferred method of payment for all items. You can shop Amazon for specific products or shop directly from Whole Foods Market. Orders below $50 will have an added $9.99 delivery fee, but for all orders above $50 delivery is free. In eligible cities, this service is an added convenience for Amazon lovers, having almost anything you could want at your fingertips and making trips to the store a thing of the past.

In addition to services like Google Express and Amazon Prime Fresh, many local grocery stores have also jumped on the delivery train. If you visit your favorite local grocer’s website, you will be able to shop online and have your groceries delivered to you on the same day.

Most stores will offer discounts like money off or free delivery on your first order. It’s common for stores to add on a small delivery fee, but the time saved and added convenience of shopping from home really makes the small extra cost worth it.

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

How many hours of sleep do you get at night? If your answer is between seven and ten, then you’re probably doing pretty well! According to the National Sleep Foundation, the amount of sleep you need is dependent on your age. For teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17, the optimal amount of sleep is eight to ten hours. The amount of sleep needed for younger adults (18-25) and adults (26-64) is exactly the same, between seven to nine hours. For adults ages 65 and older, a slightly lower amount of seven to eight hours is needed to feel fully rested. These numbers make sense when you really think about. The younger you are, the more sleep you need to make it through the day.

Next you may ask, why do we need sleep? The answer is, there is no clear reason. Scientists have asked this question for years and there have been multiple studies done, but no one has come up with a clear result. There are, however, several theories as to why both humans and animals feel tired and require sleep. Two popular theories include the Restoration Theory and the Brain Plasticity Theory.


The Restoration Theory states that our body needs sleep in order to “restore” whatever it has lost throughout the day while being awake. While your body is sleeping, it takes the opportunity to “recharge” your batteries in a sense and restore functions like muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis and releasing growth hormones. The Restoration Theory also mentions that sleep has proven to be important for cognitive function. The neurons in your brain produce adenosine, which has been linked to the cause of feeling tired. This may explain why you feel so tired after a long day of work and cognitive activity.

Another theory that has gained popularity is the Brain Plasticity Theory. This theory states that sleep plays a huge role in the structure and organization of the brain. This is especially critical for the brain development in infants and young children, which is why they need more sleep than adults. Studies have shown that a lack of sleep has an impact on the cognitive abilities of adults. For example, adults that did not have enough sleep had a harder time learning and performing other tasks, than those who got a good amount of sleep.

Although no theories have been proven, they have helped scientists get closer to fully understanding what causes us to sleep and why we need it.

http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/benefits-of-sleep/learning-memory

Pets of the Month

Hello, My name is Lacie Lorraine and I moved to LionsGate in September 2017. I love my new home. I love when we get to go for walks around the buildings and especially when I get to see some of the other dogs. I have made friends with some of them already. Where I used to live, it stressed me out because I lived next to a busy road, so I love the quiet now. I get excited when I see my new furry friends walk by our patio door.

Nine years ago I saw a shadow moving along our high patio wall. I looked out to see a tiny gray kitten with big eyes! My hubby, Troy, climbed on two stacked patio chairs and offered him a handful of treats. Thomas has been our forever cat since that night. We posted his picture on TabbyTracker and Petfinder but he wasn’t claimed (thankfully). He is affectionate and well behaved now that he’s matured. Because of his fur he has never had a hairball.

Think you have the world’s cutest pet and want everyone to know it? There’s nothing wrong with being a show off! Enter your pet in Richdale’s Pet of the Month contest for a chance to win a BarkBox or KitNipBox for your furry friend. Tell us about your furry friend and if he or she is featured, YOU win! Send pictures and a brief description to: TheLeaf@richdale.com!

Fitness: Tips To Start The New Year Off Right!

Many people start the new year off with a resolution to become healthier, lose weight, exercise more, etc. However, close to 60% of those individuals start off great, but eventually fall off the wagon. A common mistake that people make is trying to do too many things at one time instead of making obtainable goals. Here are some tips to help you set up realistic goals and keep your resolution.


What is the motivation behind your weight loss or healthy resolution? Do you want to feel better, do you want your clothes to fit a little looser or do you want to have more energy? Take a minute to figure out the main reason behind your end goal and prepare a plan.

Instead of jumping into all the changes at once, make it easier on yourself and make one change at a time. If your end goal is to cut out high-carb foods and work out three to four times a week, then begin by slowly taking away the foods you want to avoid and add in more of the foods you need, like protein and vegetables. Set a goal to work out once or twice a week to start and gradually add in more days.

Goals are an easy way to know where you’re going and how to get there. SMART goals will help you narrow down your plan and simplify your strategies. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. For example, “I will work out for 30 minutes twice this week and pack a lunch to take to work every day.”

Tracking what you eat on a daily basis can be a great way to help you gradually make better choices when it comes to food. Being aware of the food you eat can help you to control portions and calories. It can be shocking to see what some of our favorite foods consist of. As you start replacing some of your foods, eating more vegetables is a great way to get many of the nutrients your body needs. Filling up with veggies cuts down your calorie intake and also makes you feel full.

Breakfast is indeed the most important meal of the day, it’s not just a saying. Eating a large healthy breakfast early in the morning will help you stay full longer, give you more energy throughout the day, and it will influence you to make healthier food choices.

https://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/10-tips-to-help-you-achieve-your-new-years-health-goals.html

Easy Dinner Ideas That Will Impress Your Valentine

Ingredients:
• 3/4 c. balsamic vinegar
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 tbsp. honey
• 2 tbsp. olive oil
• 1 tbsp. dried thyme
• 1 tbsp. dried oregano
• 4 steak fillets, such as sirloin
• 2 tomatoes, sliced
• Kosher salt
• 4 slices mozzarella
• Fresh basil leaves, for serving

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, garlic, honey, olive oil, dried thyme, and dried oregano.

2. Pour over steak and let marinade 20 minutes.

3. Season tomatoes with salt and pepper.

4. Heat grill to high. Grill steak 5 minutes per side, then top with mozzarella and tomatoes and cover grill until cheese is melty, 2 minutes.

5. Add basil and serve.

http://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a48615/caprese-steak-recipe/

Ingredients:
• 1 c. all-purpose flour
• Kosher salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
• 2 tbsp. butter
• 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
• 8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 3/4 c. marsala wine
• 3/4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
• 1/3 c. heavy cream
• 2 tbsp. Freshly Chopped Parsley
• Cooked angel hair, for serving

Directions:
1. Season flour with salt and pepper, dredge chicken in flour.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter and olive oil. Add chicken and cook until golden on both sides, about 5 minutes per side.

3. Make Marsala sauce: melt remaining butter in skillet and add mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are golden and liquid has been released, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, then season with salt.

4. Add marsala, chicken broth, heavy cream, and parsley and bring to a simmer.

5. Return chicken to skillet and spoon sauce over breasts.

6. Simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

7. Serve over angel hair, if desired.

http://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a49576/creamy-chicken-marsala-recipe/

Ingredients:
• 4 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips
• 1 lb. fresh strawberries

Directions:
1. Place chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until melted and smooth.

2. Holding the strawberries by the stem, dip in the melted chocolate, letting the excess chocolate drip off.

3. Transfer the dipped strawberries onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper.

4. Refrigerate the strawberries until the chocolate is firm, at least 30 min. Enjoy!

Travel: Get Away for the Winter

Cruises are a popular getaway choice for many during the icy winter months, but when is the best time to go? Waiting until later in the winter season can be the better time to go as most people tend to go in December or January. Below we have listed the top five cruise locations to escape to.

The Caribbean and Bahamas are two of the most popular cruise getaway locations, especially during the winter months. With fun in the sun activities like snorkeling and racing around the sand dunes, it’s not hard to see why. Not to mention the much-needed warmth and sunshine.

During our winter months, it’s actually summer in the Galapagos. This is a great destination for snorkeling and wild sea life watching, especially during the months of December through February. If you wait until March for this trip, it is likely that you’ll get to see the hatching of baby green turtles and giant tortoises!

The winter is also a great time to visit the Mediterranean parts of Europe like Rome, Venice and Barcelona. During the winter, cruises are confined to this area, but on the plus side you can visit these hot spots and enjoy everything there is to do without a ton of people around. Another option for European cruises include the coastal Norwegian cruises, which guarantees sightings of the Northern Lights on any classic round trip, 12-night stay between October 1st and March 31st.

Like the Galapagos it’s also summer in Australia and New Zealand. If you’re looking for some beautiful weather to take advantage of, look no further. Cities on New Zealand’s South Island and along Australia’s eastern and southern edges feature some of the best weather of the year. There’s no shortage of things to do and places to see, whether you visit the hustle and bustle of Sydney or Melbourne or take in the natural beauty of New Zealand.

The Middle East and Southeast Asia offer both ocean and river cruises. During the winter months is the best time to visit these destinations with temperatures in the upper 70s to mid-80s. Ocean cruises to the Middle East stop at ports in Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The Nile river cruises are also very popular during this time of year. Ocean cruises in Southeast Asia include ports like Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, but if a river cruise sounds more appealing, you can sail down the Mekong in Vietnam or the Irrawaddy in Myanmar.

December Pets of the Month

Hi! My name is Fergie and I live at LionsGate in Lincoln, Nebraska! I am a domestic shorthair kitten and my mom adopted me in September from Capital Humane Society. I love to play with my feather boa and all my fun toys. I also love to explore and watch the cars drive by outside the window!

Hi! My name is Sherlock and I’m an 8-month-old Sheltie! My mom and I just moved into The Saxony in Dallas, Texas a month or so ago and it’s been great! We go on tons of walks now ‘cause there’s so much shade to stay cool and tons of bushes and green stuff that we get to sniff. When we’re not out and about, I love to sleep where I’m not supposed to (My momma says I’m mischievous! I don’t know what that means, though.) and play fetch with my favorite ball!

Think you have the world’s cutest pet and want everyone to know it? There’s nothing wrong with being a show off! Enter your pet in Richdale’s Pet of the Month contest for a chance to win a BarkBox or KitNipBox for your furry friend. Tell us about your furry friend and if he or she is featured, YOU win! Send pictures and a brief description to: TheLeaf@richdale.com!

Slow Cooker Peppermint Hot Cocoa

Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 2 hours

Ingredients:
2 cups heavy cream
5 1/2 cups milk
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups good quality milk chocolate chips
Marshmallows and mini candy canes for garnish

Instructions:
1. Combine all ingredients (except garnish) in a slow cooker set to low heat.
Let cook for 2 hours, stirring occassionally. When chocolate is fully melted
and the drink is hot to taste, it’s done!
2. Top with marshmallows and mini candy canes for some extra fun.
3. Enjoy!

Make A Difference This Holiday Season

The cold holiday months can be a difficult time for many people. If you’re looking for a way to give back, this time of year is the perfect time to start. Below we have listed six of the simplest and most impactful ways you can spread your holiday spirit this year. Many of our communities participate in these these opportunities; watch for emails from your community about our giving back events.

Send holiday cards to active-duty military and veterans:
Sending cards to our military heroes is a simple, yet impactful way to give back this holiday season. It may not seem like much, but this small gesture can brighten the day of those who have given so much to fight for our freedom and those who aren’t able to make it home to their families for the holidays. You can send cards through your local American Red Cross that participates in the Holidays for Heroes program. You can also see if A Million Thanks has a card drop-off location near you.

Collect donations for a food bank:

Food banks are always in need of help, but especially during the holidays. During this time, many people are in the giving spirit and it’s a great opportunity to get friends together to collect donations. You can form your own food drive or gather cash and food donations for a drive run by another organization. Food banks look for nutritious nonperishable items like whole grain foods and canned foods with low sodium. If you’d like to look for a food bank in your area, click here.

Volunteer at a Shelter:
As money is short for many during the holiday season, one of the most rewarding ways to give back is to donate your time. Take time to volunteer at a homeless shelter or a women and children’s shelter to help with meal prep or food service. This allows for the opportunity to meet the individuals you serve and makes for a very gratifying experience. To find a shelter to serve at near you, click here.

Assemble a group of friends to sponsor a family:
Get a group of friends involved in the giving this year by sponsoring a family in need. There are many organizations such as The Salvation Army that gather information for families in need of sponsorship during the holiday season. Groups will be provided with a list of the family members and the children’s ages, clothing sizes and wish lists. After choosing a family, let the holiday shopping begin! Your group is free to spend whatever amount meets the budget. This very rewarding way of giving back ensures that families in need have a holiday they won’t soon forget.

Help Children in Need with Toys for Tots:
A great way to get involved this season is to help children in need by donating new, unused toys to the Toys for Tots Foundation. Toys for Tots is a charity that collects unwrapped donated toys to give to less fortunate families who can’t afford gifts during the holidays. “The primary goal of Toys for Tots is to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens.”